18 Life-Saving Items Trainers Keep in Their Gym Bags
18 Life-Saving Items Trainers Always Keep on Hand
Personal trainers, gym owners, and other fitness fanatics have logged hundreds of thousands of hours at the gym. As such, they’ve hit just about every workout-related snag imaginable, from an iPod that runs out of juice just as you’re hitting the most intense part of your workout to a fainting spell caused by a hunger-induced blood sugar crash. And that means their gym bags are stocked with the stuff you’d never think to pack until it’s already too late. Learn from their mistakes, and start keeping these 18 life-savers on hand—just in case. (Get more fitness tips for your workout by checking out these 9 of the Hardest and Best Exercises from Real Trainers.)
Notebook and a Pen
“You never know when you’ll need to write something down, especially a new move you learn at the gym,” says fitness and lifestyle consultant Amie Hoff, President of Hoff Fitness. Hofffitness.com. “I'm often at my most creative when I'm exercising, so having a pad close at hand allows me to get down all of my ideas. I also use my pad to write down my aims and goals for the day, week, even year! It helps keep me focused, positive, and thankful for how far I've come,” adds UK-based Ben Winter, owner of Ben Winter PT.
Toilet Paper Roll
“Lots of gyms run out of toilet paper and I do a lot of outdoor boot camps. Often park bathrooms are not well stocked with supplies. I don't have to worry about it with my extra stash!” says San Diego-based certified personal trainer Jennifer Purdie.
Many trainers keep dry shampoo in their bag. Baby powder can work as well as the brand-named stuff (just be sure to brush it out well, especially if you have darker roots). Sara Jespersen, owner of group training company Trumi Training (trumi.com), also uses powder absorb and de-stink foot sweat. (Learn more about How to Use Dry Shampoo for Beautiful Hair In Any Sitch.)
“Not because I eat it (which I don't—honestly!) but because it's not uncommon for clients to head to a workout on an empty stomach. They push themselves, their blood sugar takes a dive, they get dizzy and light-headed and feel sick and sometimes pass out! If I can see the symptoms quick enough and throw them some candy, we avoid any of the really bad side effects. They usually feel better within a few minutes and although they won't be able to exercise more, they can at least head home safely for a decent meal,” says Winter.
Follow Master Trainer Jenny Skoog’s lead and opt for something water-resistant with an SPF of at least 30, just in case your workout takes you outdoors. Don’t forget UV-protective sunglasses either.
This is something that came up again and again—from about 15 of the fitness pros we tapped for ideas. They use it to warm up, cool down, or as their whole workout. Try this Jump Rope Workout to Blast Fat in 20-Minutes.
“Phone and iPod charger,” says Marion Roaman, co-founder of Peloton Cycle in New York City. Being caught without music in the middle of a workout—now that’s a disaster.
Don them in the locker room and the gym showers, suggests Laila Zemrani, of personal training site Fitnescity.com. “This is mostly for hygiene reasons—athletes' feet are known to be subject to regular infections.”
Specifically, disinfecting baby wipes, suggests pilates instructor Ilaria Caganga. “The great thing about a baby wipes is their versatility. I use them to quickly clean the equipment for each new client, as a quick cool down towel, and to take my eye make up off. I even use them to shine my leather shoes when I’m going from the gym to a night on the town!” (Also, take note of these 7 Things You’re Not Washing (But Should Be).)
“Nothing’s more irritating than an intense workout with my hair down, so I bought a pack of hair ties and left it in my gym bag. Now if I forget one or mine breaks, I always have a spare,” says North Carolina-based certified personal trainer Lisa Northup, of Inergy Fitness Solutions, LLC. “And my gym buddies are always relieved to know I have extras when they're in need of one too!”
We’re totally on board the coconut oil train, but we never thought to keep it in our gym bags. Yet certified personal trainer Elissa Kurland swears by it, saying, “It helps dry skin, fly-away hair, and you can even add a tablespoon to green tea or coffee to give the body a metabolic boost.”
“Sometimes when I lift weights, my nails break and chip, so I like to keep a nail file handy,” notes personal trainer Sara Haley (who was one of Shape's 50 Hottest Female Trainers in 2014).
Lacrosse, Tennis, or Golf Ball
“This is my own essential item: a lacrosse or tennis ball is easy to carry around every day and is especially great for long trips—I never leave my house without it. I use it for self-massage. There’s nothing like it to get the kinks out!” says Mimi Chan, a martial arts instructor and personal trainer.
“You never know when you’re going to have a loose-grip kind of day,” says personal trainer Kim Weston, of KimFIT-training.com. One caveat: many gyms would prefer you not use chalk, so if you work out at a public gym, ask the management if they have a policy against it. If so, try weight-lifting gloves instead.
Vitamin C Powder
“Getting sick is not an option for a trainer, but spending the day in a gym makes me susceptible to lots of germs,” says Chicago-based fitness and wellness expert Lisa Payne and owner of Lisa Payne Fitness. “I always keep Emergen-C packets in my bag to fight off a cold or the flu.” (Ward off any virus with these 8 Natural Remedies for Coughs, Headaches, and More.)
First Aid Kit
Besides the usual (bandages, painkillers, alcohol or disinfecting wipes), several of the trainers we interviewed named arnica cream or gel among their must-haves. “It’s the best if you have a strain, sprain, or are black and blue from bumping into things!” says fitness instructor Anita Perry, of YogaAnita.com.
“I make sure to have spare Lycra shorts. I’ve never had them split yet, but there’s always a first time, and I’d like to mitigate the risk!” says Angela Reed-Fox, director of the UK-based Fox Cycling. Bring a full second set (socks and underwear included, stresses Skoog) to change into post-sweat session or in case something goes wrong with your first.
Second Pair of Gym Shoes
“Just as one size does not fit all, one pair of gym shoes does not work for every type of exercise,” says fitness and lifestyle consultant Ashley Borden. If you’re wearing your cross-trainers, pack your running shoes. Or keep a versatile backup pair on hand, something you can jog a mile in or wear to pump. (Need running shoes? Consider The Best Running Shoes for Winter Weather.)